The struggle is real: expectation vs. reality

A graphic of someone looking at their exam, thinking they will get a great mark on it.
Hopefully you put the work in to get that great grade. ijmaki via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

When expectations don’t line up with reality 

Exam season is such an interesting time in students’ lives. Sometimes referred to as the finale of all things academic, students go through so much in their academic journey only to let that one final exam be the judge of all the hard work, sucking up to the professor for bonus marks, and a lot more just to snag an extra mark here or there.  

Having lofty expectations without the drive to see them through does not guarantee a passing grade. Expectations and reality during exam season can be very different.  

Let’s address the elephant in the room – the expectation of strictly following the exam schedule. If no one says it, let me say it – it is not for everyone. The expectation to be able to suddenly follow a strict exam schedule after being a careless, clever clog the whole semester isn’t likely to happen. Students make rigorous exam study plans but are not well-equipped to adhere to them.  

Armed with colour-coded planners and digital calendars, they embark on their journey to academic success with strong determination. However, procrastination is the unfortunate reality and fruit of their labour. Despite their best intentions and efforts, they often find themselves succumbing to the temptation of social media, distractions, and binge-watching their favourite over-the-top shows rather than diving into textbooks.  

Unattainable study schedules are not the only lofty expectation students have. Those ‘out-of-nowhere’ study groups made of your closest friends is sometimes not just a good time. Students have high expectations that they will be able to keep each other in check.  

But what really happens? That study spot becomes the central distraction point. Splitting into social groups, discussing personal stories, and engaging in a nostalgic spree during study time distracts them from studying. The campus library becomes the breeding ground for distraction instead of productivity.  

Students also have the expectation of being able to go through every material taught in the class and score perfect marks, while not knowing what is going on in class and sometimes not even knowing when the exam is. With the expectation of covering such a heavy course load in such a short span of time, students get overwhelmed.  

There is so much to study in so little time, and sometimes they only get to look through examples. This is reflected in their marks and affects their future study patterns when they receive a decent mark for the bare minimum of effort. Just like how toxic relationships can be thrilling, the thrill of getting through exams with the bare minimum efforts knows no bounds.  

In this battle between expectation and reality, students often find themselves grappling with the harsh realities of procrastination, distraction, and information overload. However, during the chaos of exam season, it is important to remember that productivity is a journey and not a destination. Students can get miles ahead in their lives when they embrace their fears, learn to lean on their strengths, and actively work to solve their weaknesses.  


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